McLaren man promises transparency


While some remain sceptical as to how McLaren will handle its two world champions, principal race engineer, Phil Prew, insists there will be total transparency and no favouritism.

With an eye on the debacle of 2007, when the in-house squabbling led to Fernando Alonso leaving the team after just one season, not to mention the bitter carry-on that was the teaming of Prost and Senna, the Woking team is determined to learn from bitter experience.

As part of the process aimed at giving both drivers equality, and demonstrating this to the outside world, the team has created a new role, that of principal race engineer. The job has gone to Hamilton's former engineer Phil Prew, who will oversee the crew that work with the two drivers including Andy Latham (Hamilton) and Jakob Andreasen (Button).

"Right from the start, we've divided it as evenly as possible," Prew told the Guardian. "For example, during testing, we alternated which driver started each test so that the driver who goes second gets better track conditions. At the last test in Barcelona, we actually alternated the drivers through the test because we knew that some of the upgrade components would be coming late, and also to minimise the effect of the wet weather."

"It's about transparency and making sure that the information we have on the car is actively shared and discussed," Prew continues, referring to the need for the equality in all aspects of the team's assault on the titles, especially post-session debriefs. "The engineering team is very close and discuss ideas among each other. Even if the drivers weren't actively taking part in the test, they were present for the debriefs. Obviously, the drivers bring different things and both have different emphases but there is quite a bit they can learn from each other. I'd like to think they feel better as a consequence.

"Typically, after getting out of his car, a driver will first do a debrief with his engineer, and that's quite a personal thing. But everyone will be in the same room. So you have the situation where one driver will say: 'My car is doing this - is yours?' That's the sort of exchange that will happen. Once that's been completed, all the information will be on the table for each engineering group to share. It's left to me to try and pull the pieces together and interweave them to provide the best benefit for both drivers and, of course, the team."

Like the rest of us, Prew is salivating at the thought of the forthcoming season, especially with two (British) world champions in the same team. "They're different characters, as you would expect," he says. "Both want to go out there and win. They know how to win; both are champions and that's quite special. They're getting on really well and accept that we need to work together to get the performance - but they've got to go racing against each other yet."

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Published: 07/03/2010
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